Federal and state law prohibit California employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)
In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:
The state of California prohibits workplace discrimination based on any of the following characteristics:
Several cities in the U.S. have their own laws protecting additional characteristics or extending protection to more employees. For example, height and weight are protected classes in San Francisco. Contact your local government to learn more.
You have three years from the most recent incident of discrimination or retaliation to file a claim with California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
If you work in California and want to file a workplace discrimination claim with the EEOC, you generally have up to 300 days to do so
If your employer takes any sort of negative action against you for filing a claim of discrimination or harassment, that would constitute illegal retaliation. Such retaliation might involve:
Note that you can generally file a claim for retaliation even if you don't have an underlying discrimination or harassment claim.
Federal antidiscrimination laws apply to California employers with 15 or more employees, with the following exceptions:
California's antidiscrimination laws apply to companies with five or more employees.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in California. (See our article on filing a discrimination claim with the EEOC.)
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Sacramento District Office enforces state antidiscrimination law in California. You can contact the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Sacramento District Office at 916-478-7200 or 800-884-1684 or go to its website.
If you've been the victim of workplace discrimination, consider contacting an experienced employment attorney to discuss your legal options. You can find one using our Lawyer Directory.